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Challenge, the most fun part of life?

Isn’t it funny how we often seek the easiest path even when we know the tougher path will be more fun and more rewarding? If we look back at our life the easy victories are not the moments we remember and cherish it is then moments when we were challenged that stand out. After failing at climbing the “widow maker” in Grand Junction at least five times and walking it each time over two years it is the time I finally climbed it that I can remember like it was yesterday. Lets face it, anyone in reasonable shape can walk their bike off a tough climb but riding it is much more rewarding! So go out and challenge yourself on your next ride. Go 10 feet further on the widow maker climb, shave 2% off your fastest lap time on your favorite loop, clean that step up maneuver that keeps intimidating you, ride 4 mile or 30 minutes longer than you ever have, push yourself a little harder. You will thank yourself and feel better after meeting a challenge head on and conquering it.

I returned to Bromont, Quebec for the first time since 2002 for a race last weekend and nearly chickened out! The course was steep, rocky, with a fair amount of rocks, fun to ride and little scary to go race pace on. Then it rained! The steep sections were now an inch deep in mud and I was scared, “will I be able to make the steep turns in this muck? Will I be able to slow down? I am getting older, I don’t have anything to prove, maybe I should just take this weekend off…” was running in my head. I had to stop for a fallen rider in my first practice run in the mud and was scared to restart with muddy tires on the steep off camber rocks so I went a round. Well, that didn’t help my confidence, so despite being soaked and cold I took a second practice run and made it down slower than when it was dry but I made it down clean! Well by the time my race run rolled around 3.5 hours later the course had been torn up by over 150 riders and when I hit the steep section it looked really ugly and fear hit me again but the enthusiastic fans (I love racing in Quebec, quite a few fans braved the rain and mud and had hiked up to the toughest sections of the course) urged me on and I dropped in and railed the steep, muddy and off-camber section! Wow, that felt good! I haven’t been that scared of a downhill course in years and it felt great to look fear in the eye and go for it again! I am not recommending you do something over your head (which even if you make it you will just feel lucky) but go out and challenge yourself.

BetterRider’s Tear it Up at the National Championships

The Future of American Mountain Bike Racing is getting Brighter! BetterRide coached racers were all over the Cross Country, Downhill, Super D and Mountain Cross podiums at the National Championships in Sol Vista this weekend. Congratulations to all racers who showed up and gave it their best this weekend.

Here are some highlights from BetterRiders for the weekend:

– Kelli Emmett (Giant Bicycles) added to her winning ways with National Championship Victory in the Pro women’s Super D as well a 7th in the Cross Country and a 9th place finish in the Short Track. Kelli Emmett winning the Super D wasn’t a huge surprise as she is one of the fastest women I have ever coached, but super mom Julie Olsen earning a 5th place only 2 seconds back from former National Downhill champ Elka Brutsaert?! Way to go Julie!

– Jackie Harmony (Vixen Racing/TLD/All Mountain Cyclery/Hayes) has been getting faster with each race this year and earned second place in both Pro Mountain Cross and Pro Downhill!

– Brian Buell (Team Geronimo) also earned a second place in Pro Mtn. Cross and 8th in the Downhill.

– Joey Schusler (Yeti) was just off the pro downhill podium in 6th.

– Jennifer Wolf (All Mountain Cyclery), Christin Boyer (One Ghost) and Addie Stewart  (Go-Ride) finished 6th, 7th and 8th in the pro women’s downhill.

– Rookie pro Lear Miller took 6th in the Mtn. Cross and 32nd in the pro downhill field.

– Ross Schnell (Trek) didn’t get the best start and with little room to pass on the mostly singletrack course still managed 10th place in the Pro Men’s Super D.

– Madison “Mad Dog” Bailey is now the 2010 Cat 1 15-16 National Champ winning by 3 seconds over 2nd place and Austin Benge put down a fast run to finish 5th in the same class.

Unfortunately, last years Pro MX champion, Jr. Cat 1 Downhill Champion and BetterRider Mitch Ropelato had to sit the race out with a broken collarbone but he will be back for the last few World Cups and the World Championships. Heal up fast Mitch.

Congratulations to all the following BetterRide coached racers for working hard and achieving and/or exceeding their goals at the National Championships.

BetterRide.net racer results at the 2010 US National Championships

Downhill
Junior 13-14
2nd Matthew Branney (RPM/Yeti)
3rd Galen Carter
4th Roy Benge

Cat 1 17-18
Trevor Trinkino lead the BetterRide contingent with a 5th place, Christen Wright who is coming back from knee surgery earned 7th place and Andy Proctor was 11th.

Cat 1 19-29
2nd Kyra Alexander

Cat 1 25-29 Class
2nd Jon Card
6th Dan Goddard

Cat 1 30-39
3rd Annemarie Hennes
4th Amber Price
6th Megan Zemny

Cat 1 35-39
3rd place Jeff Kegu

4X
Cat 1 Women
3rd Amber Price
4th Annemarie Hennes

Cat 2 15-18
2nd Cody Kelly

Cat 1 30-39
1st  Jeff Kegu

BetterRiders on the Podium at the Canadian National Champs Too!

Another cool email from the father of a happy camper:
“Hi Gene,
Just read your newsletter; sounds like you took the “scenic line” down the National Champs course 🙂  Bummer.

14 year old McKay in 3 Place in U 17 at the Canadian National Champs

I thought i’d add to your list of students on the podium at National Championships.  Mckay (he attended your Bootleg camp with Greg M.) finished 3rd in U17 Expert Men at the Canadian DH Nationals (as a 14 yr old).  2 weeks prior, he raced at the PRO GRT at Northstar, where he finished 3rd in Cat 2 Men 18 and Under (and re-connected with Greg Minnaar, who introduced him to Steve Peat; pretty exciting stuff for a young racer!), so he had a really good two weeks!
best of luck at your race this fall in South America, and we look forward to seeing you at a camp in the future.
Sincerely,
Chris Vezina.

What good are skills if you can’t use them under pressure?

I just received this email from a student:  “Hi Gene,
I’ve really started to feel the effects of your camp and my technique has got a hell of a lot better, when I’m racing i feel so confident and fast in practice

But then when it gets to seeding and race runs this all goes out of the window and i just end up falling off, I’m not riding outside of my limits and i know that i can ride well enough to be threatening the top spot in my category but i just seem to not be able to manage the pressure and the mental side of things.

Any tips on race mentality etc??”

This a tough thing for many racers and as I mentioned a few times in
my camp, what good are all the skills if you can’t use them when
needed?

You need to toughen up your mental game. First, remember there is
no difference between a race and a practice run, same track, same
racer, same bike, same goal.  The only difference between your race
run and a practice run is the pressure YOU but on the run. Treat your
race rub=n as another practice run (especially if you are doing timed
practice runs using a stopwatch)  then read these two blog posts:
http://betterride.net/blog/2010/are-you-tough-part-1/ and
http://betterride.net/blog/2010/are-you-tough-part-2/ and most
importantly ready, study, practice, master one of these books from
your homework assignment:

The New Toughness Training for Sports: Mental, Emotional, and Physical
Conditioning from One of the World’s Premier Sports Psychologists
by James E. Leohr, Chris Evert, Dan Jansen,

Excellent book with work sheets to help you practice what it teaches.

The Mental Edge: Maximize Your Sports Potential with the Mind/Body Connection
by Ken Baum, Richard Trubo,

Excellent book with work sheets to help you practice what it teaches.

Body Mind Mastery: Creating Success in Sport and Life
by Dan Millman,

Really, really great book that goes a little deeper into why you
compete in sports and helps you integrate sport and life (helps you
see and create balance in your life so the sport does not take over
your life).

Most importantly have fun!  That’s what keeps Steve Peat and Minnaar on top.